Tony Countdown

As seasons go, it wasn't a bad year on Broadway. Especially when you compare it to last year, when five musicals opened on top of each other - none really great - and then most folded their tents right after the Tony Awards. The exception was The Life, which only recently announced its closing date, June 7th. And, of course, we had Titanic winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, and it really was the best musical of last season. But which musical will take the coveted prize this year? Will it be Side Show, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Lion King or Ragtime?

It looks like it's a toss-up between The Lion King and Ragtime. Or will they cancel each other out and the Pimpernel take the prize? Side Show is history, so I doubt that has a chance; however, it's happened before that a closed show won the Tony for Best Musical. It's anyone's guess, but I'll give the nod to Ragtime.

I won't bore you with the rest of my predictions. Let our critic, Christina D'Angelo, guide you as she hands out the Talkin' Broadway Tina Awards in her special column this week in Christina's World.

The big night of the year is Sunday, when we will all be put out of our misery. Rosie O' will be hosting the Tony Awards for the second year in a row; however, this year will be different, as Rosie is also a producer. Those who were at Radio City last year can tell you that Rosie had some 'reins' holding her back and the real Rosie came through during the commercial breaks. I think this year, she'll be better than ever, especially if she lets loose. Already, she has instructed the Tony nominees on their acceptance speeches - rather than thank their grandparents and nieces, Rosie wants speeches from the heart. The best speech I ever heard was from Liza Minnelli one year for some award. She said something like, "There are so many people to thank, and they know who they are..." So, expect some emotional moments on Sunday if the nominees follow Rosie's advice.

After the Awards, the annual fallout occurs. Right now, we're all guessing who's going to win all those Tony Awards, and an award most definitely has impact on whether a show will make it or not. A Tony to the Pimpernel could mean survival, and without one...sayonara! In the Best Play category, Golden Child couldn't hang on due to its weak box office; however, its closing notice came out just two days after Tony voters had to have their ballots in, and that raised a few eyebrows. Some voters just don't like voting for closed shows regardless of the quality of the material. Last year's Best Play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, closes June 28, after 557 performances. With The Life closing and The Sunshine Boys ending it's scheduled run, there will be a few vacant houses - including the Booth, where The Old Neighborhood shuttered. Will High Society, the un-nominated musical, make it? Last week, Cats sold more tickets than they did, so that should tell you something.

After the fallout, we start the cycle again with the new season. And it looks like we're going to have some interesting things coming at us. Footloose, directed by Walter Chicago Bobbie, sounds exciting, as do Swan Lake, Wise Guys, Whistle Down The Wind, The Jazz Singer, The Lion in Winter, the revival of Peter Pan and many, many more new things heading to the Great White Way...all of which gives us more fuel for Talkin' Broadway.

Until then, though, the next four days should be exciting. It's off to New York to catch up on some shows, and then, of course, Sunday evening, when we'll be attending the Tony Awards. Most of the staff will be there, so there should be some interesting reporting coming at you in the next few weeks. For those of you in New York, drop by the Rainbow Room lounge on Sunday around 6 and say hello.

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